S. Korea’s current account surplus with US reaches 5-year high

Posted on : 2021-06-23 17:05 KST Modified on : 2021-06-23 17:11 KST
South Korea’s current account surplus with China fell to the lowest level in 11 years
(Clip Art Korea)
(Clip Art Korea)

South Korea’s current account surplus with the US reached a five-year high in 2020.

South Korea had a US$33.16 billion current account surplus vis-à-vis the US in 2020, much larger than the US$19.11 billion in the previous year, the Bank of Korea (BOK) said Tuesday. Those figures were part of the BOK’s tentative regional breakdown of international figures for last year.

That’s the biggest surplus since 2015 when it was US$33.44 billion.

The surplus in the commodities account was driven up by plunging oil prices and fewer imports of raw materials amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, Korea’s tourism deficit shrank as restrictions on foreign travel reduced the number of Koreans visiting the US.

At the same time, Korea’s current account surplus with China decreased from US$25.96 billion in 2019 to US$16.97 billion in 2020. That was the smallest surplus since 2009, 11 years ago, when Korea reported a surplus of US$16.26 billion.

Despite surging exports of semiconductors, Korea’s surplus in the commodities account decreased amid declining exports of petrochemical products and fire-processed articles. The balance of tourism also slumped as the number of Chinese entering the country decreased.

Korea’s current account deficit with Japan expanded, growing from US$19.02 billion in 2019 to US$21.31 billion in 2020. The tourism account improved as fewer Koreans visited Japan, but the commodities deficit ballooned amid fewer exports of petrochemical and steel products.

Korea reported US$58.55 billion in domestic investment in foreign securities last year, in a modest decline from US$59.64 billion the previous year.

By Jun Seul-gi, staff reporter

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